Warn very young children about online porn, say school heads. Do you agree?

(67 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 20-May-13 10:46:41

Hello. We've seen in the news today that the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is saying that young children should hear about the dangers of pornography as soon as they have access to the internet.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, says, "as soon as children are getting access, it's time to begin the conversation", given the ready availability of explicit material online.

The NAHT says this issue is increasingly troubling to teachers and heads as they grapple with the impact of pornography on pupils' self-image and their perceptions of sexuality. And they think children should receive appropriate guidance as part of schools' relationship and sex education.

They also say that, according to a survey (of 1000-odd parents) that they commissioned, 83% of parents feel children should learn about the dangers of pornography in sex education lessons - and nearly half (four out of ten) think this should happen in the early primary-school years.

What do you think?

Should children be taught in school about the dangers of pornography on the internet? And if so, at what age? Do you think it's right to have your primary-school-aged child learning about such things?

Please do post your thoughts here.

scaevola Tue 21-May-13 07:05:11

Wishing for a unicorn, whether it is world peace, a car that cannot crash or an Internet where porn is either non-existent or invariably labelled, doesn't make it possible.

Search MN for empusa's 'unicorn post' and the debate within to see why it cannot happen.

And it's slightly beside the point here. Internet security is important - whether it's grooming with intention to meet (getting rarer, according to CEOP), coercion into performing sex acts on webcam (on the rise), cyber-bullying, "happy" slapping, stumbling across violence/porn or deliberately seeking out harmful sites (anorexia, crime/terrorism, violence, porn).

Schools and parents really do need to work together on this.

As as they have access is a bit silly. Plenty of babies/toddlers go on games websites but aren't going to be able to go to Google and search for anything because they can't write or read yet.

However, as soon as they do start beong able to read, write and search they probably should have a 'not everyone online/everything you can find, is nice or true or accurate'

MadeOfStarDust Tue 21-May-13 10:11:32

Why does it have to be put on a formal education footing - I have 2 girls - maybe easier to deal with - I don't know - but we had a chat about security
no posting personal details,
no you can't have a facebook account til you're 13,
no you can't have a smart phone yet either..... etc.... followed by "if you see something inappropriate/ horrid or that you just don't like - WALK AWAY and come see me or your dad".

Our computer has filters set - I have never accidentally (or not) come across porn on searches. The only time my eldest came to see me was when they had to research the floods in 2007 and the search came up with floods in Bangladesh and a picture of floating corpses appeared first in the images list....

Educate parents.

Bramshott Tue 21-May-13 10:13:57

I think that a talk along the lines of "sadly not everything on the internet is good, educational, or appropriate for children - if you see anything that worries you - come and tell an adult and we won't be cross with you" is a very good idea from about the age of 7 or 8 when children are more likely to be straying away from a few pre-approved sites.

Hulababy Tue 21-May-13 10:25:34

We teach children from foundation stage that if they are on the computer and see anything that they don't like, don't understand or worries them to tell a grown up straight away. It's part of the Internet safety we are supposed to do at school anyway.

badinage Tue 21-May-13 10:33:25

The reason it has to be 'put on a formal education footing' is because not every child has parents who educate and guide and a whole bunch of them use porn themselves and leave family computers vulnerable to pop-ups and search suggestions that make access to porn 100 times easier. Offer to educate the parents by all means, but you can't compel them to attend and in general, only concerned responsible parents who think they've got actually got a role to play in this dilemma will turn up for the sessions. So the 'educators' are preaching to the converted.

The primary responsibility is to the children themselves - not the parents.

projectbabyweight Tue 21-May-13 10:52:13

"The primary responsibility is to the children themselves - not the parents."

Exactly.

50shadesofvomit Tue 21-May-13 10:56:16

Yes.

It's very easy to access porn accidentally. Porn pop ups/banners appear on many sites like illegal download sites which children access.

If you Google my name in Google images or go to the website of "my name.com " you get a porn site.

I don't think it's necessary to tell 4 year olds but age 6/7 sounds right to me. For age 6/7 you probably would explain porn as "naked people pictures" and they'll probably know what you mean as they will have seen the cover of Nuts or skimpily dressed strippers on Britain's Got Talent or whatever.

THERhubarb Tue 21-May-13 11:16:03

It's all very well saying educate parents but you have a couple of problems there:

1) if your school had a talk for parents on internet safety, how many parents turned up? There is usually a low turnout for these kinds of things as parents are either too busy or not bothere.
2) some parents just don't care. It's like those parents who let their primary kids watch 18 rated movies or play 18 rated games. They honestly don't care so long as the kids aren't bothering them.

FWIW a lot of schools DO run internet safety classes for parents and Vodafone give out a very comprehensive booklet to a lot of secondary schools about internet safety which is tailored to every age. But it's still not enough.

The more research that is done, the more worrying the results of children seeing porn from a younger age, of young boys being addicted to porn, of girls being sexually bullied, of girls feeling under pressure to conform to sexual expectations. Dozens of studies by Newsbeat and others have concluded that pornography IS changing the way young people view sex and relationships. This will only get worse as more and more children have free and unrestricted access to the internet.

On TV there is a watershed (which isn't adhered to much anymore), on movies there is a rating, same with songs and computer games but seemingly porn can flaunt all these restrictions. They tag images with innocous search terms. They show free videos. They pay for advertising on social networks. They are everywhere and seemingly no-one can do anything to stop the invasion of porn on our computers.

Parental filters in any case do not work on mobile devices so whilst you are able to lock SafeSearch on your pc, you can't access it on a mobile device. And for those parents who let their children have Facebook accounts, have you any idea of the content of some of the photos and videos that are shared on Facebook? Some are really quite horrific and very very adult in nature.

I wholly agree with educating children about internet safety as this is basically what this is. The media might focus on the porn aspect but that's just part of it. If teachers want to keep our children safe from exploitation and teach them what to do if they come across anything inappropriate then why are we so against it?

This is not an issue we can afford to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that it's Someone Else's Problem. It's a huge problem on a huge scale and those surveys are just the tip of the iceberg because younger children are now online and the internet is fast becoming a large part of their lives, perhaps too fast but that's the way it is. The problem won't go away if we ignore it and we can't keep passing the buck by saying that it's the job of parents to teach their kids. It's our job to keep ALL children safe because ultimately these are the friends of our children, these are the ones who will share things with our children, who will influence our children, who may one day date our children and then it becomes very much YOUR problem.

Why wait until that day comes round?

badinage Tue 21-May-13 11:30:46

Dead right Rhubarb.

I can't stand this 'I'm alright Jack' mentality about other children who aren't lucky enough to have decent parents. Yes, there's some self-interest because especially at secondary school, kids make friends with who they damned well want and not just the kids from naice families with internet controls, but we're a society aren't we?

MadeOfStarDust Tue 21-May-13 11:48:01

Trouble is it is yet another thing for school to deal with - soon we will HAVE to lengthen the school day because there is all this other crap to cover that parents SHOULD be teaching their kids.

Those of us who DO care and who DO cover this with our kids are being accused of not caring about other kids - sheesh..... of course we do.

It is just that we cannot keep passing the buck to schools when it is OUR job to educate our kids - school's job is schooling them(which is different)!

badinage Tue 21-May-13 12:01:53

But school education has never just been about English and Maths has it? Not in our lifetime at least. It's always been about giving children a broader education for life and not just academia. Parents should educate their children about science, nature, history etc. in addition to what they get at school, but we wouldn't ever say that teachers should stop teaching those subjects because the parents have got it covered, would we?

THERhubarb Tue 21-May-13 12:07:59

It is already a problem for schools MadeOfStarDust. How much time do you think is spent in dealing with distraught pupils who are victims of cyber bullying? Or dealing with inappropriate sexual behaviour?

Just one example: as a teaching assistant I was waiting with a Year 6 pupil along with 2 other Year 6 boys and 3 pupils from Years 1 and 2 to be given their Ritalin. The other two Year 6 kids were messing around and suddenly their conversation got quite graphic, with one asking the other to suck his cock. They then simulated a gay sex act in front of the other pupils whilst pretending to orgasm.

We then had to waste hours in dealing with the little kids who saw what happened and were asking questions. Punishing the older kids and also starting a investigation over their behaviour. Getting in touch with parents and reporting the incident to the appropriate people. It turned out they had seen pornographic material and were re-enacting that.

That's just ONE incident.

The reason why Heads of schools are suggesting this is because this type of behaviour is increasing, it is becoming a problem and school do not have the resources to deal with sexually aware children who are committing sexual acts in school, using sexually inappropriate language and who are sexually bullying other pupils.

Remember that schools also have to deal with the victims, the parents and possibly social services, all whilst trying to educate children.

So what do you suggest we do about it? Ignore it and hope it will go away? Blame the parents and hope that they take note and change their ways?

HongkongDreamer Tue 21-May-13 14:13:23

They should just ban porn altogether , then there wouldnt be any worries like this

THERhubarb Tue 21-May-13 14:25:45

Well yes HongkongDreamer, I wouldn't argue with that. Porn damages relationships, it leads to the abuse of women and girls, it objectifies women, it perverts sex and now it is responsible for corroding our children.

But it still has its defenders who believe that it represents nothing more than harmless fun.

HongkongDreamer Tue 21-May-13 14:34:16

It has alot more negatives.than benefits though so the people that want it to stay should just be over looked tbh, as bad as that sounds

amazingmumof6 Thu 20-Jun-13 09:11:48

say what?

No way, how ridiculous!

but if that ever becomes the norm it should be really done in a form of a school play about sex, drugs and rock'n'rollgrin

<rolls eyes>

will they also use the words in spelling tests? that would be fun!
"how do you spell porn? yes, it's p-o-r-n! good girl, yes you can go and watch CBBeebies! "

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